The Reid Option: Week 3
Rekt. Mollywhopped. RIP’d. These are the terms that sum up my Week 2, and I sincerely hope the slang synonyms that summarize your Sunday are superior to your esteemed scribe Sammy’s.
It wasn’t just DFS for me, either – this past weekend I was off in LA for a wedding and while I was there, my personal equity was taking body blows all over the place. On Friday night I got a poker session in at Hollywood Park Casino, where an ill-fated bluff left me 1.5 buy-ins in the red. Then between travel, the hotel, and the wedding present, 4 figures were lifted from my bank account for some chick I could give two squirts about (curse my wife for having friends!). And on Sunday, my “current winnings” were a numerical expression of depression – and on top of that I went 1-4 in my important seasonal leagues. And of course, the cherry on top of this poop sundae was my beloved Steelers losing a home game in excruciating fashion while losing our franchise quarterback (and all hope for 2019) for the season. In sum, this entire weekend was Antonio Brown … and I was his doctor.
Many of you are probably nodding along as you read this, because the reality is that we’ve all been there. We’ve all had those weekends where absolutely nothing goes right and it feels like the universe is trolling us personally. It’s happened before and the odds are that before the season is out, it’ll happen again – that’s the nature of this business. Sometimes, gunfighters get shot.
The best thing you can do when you get so deeply impaled is to objectively analyze why it happened. Did you make some critical mistakes, or did you just run bad? Usually it’s a mix of both, so separating the bad luck from the bad play and deciphering which is which is very important. What I’ve found as I’ve delved deeper into competitive gaming is that the best players tend to be the best self-analyzers. This holds true in all gaming realms, whether it’s DFS, poker, or real sports.
Take a team like the Patriots; they are keenly aware of their strengths and weaknesses at all times. They work to play to their strengths and are constantly evaluating and fixing their mistakes. Critically, they don’t let their ego get in the way of this process – if they make a bad pick in the draft, they have no problem quickly cutting or trading that player and moving on. Juxtapose that with a lot of other NFL teams who will stubbornly hang on to a player and continue to pour resources into him just because they picked him high – because cutting him would be an admission of a mistake. The Pats have no fear of admitting mistakes; they know that mistakes will happen, and there’s no shame in it. The only shame is doubling down on that mistake instead of fixing it.
Poker players are the same way – we all have those friends who tell us bad-beat stories and are constantly bemoaning their bad luck despite them “playing it perfectly”. Every poker player gets unlucky sometimes – that’s the nature of the game. But the best players look at every situation deeply and ask themselves “what could I have done better here?” and they use that answer to improve their play in the future. Bad players are afraid to even ask that question because deep down, they’re afraid to admit to themselves that they made a mistake. A good player knows that no matter how good they are, they’ll still make several mistakes every single session. A bad player never gets better because they won’t admit to themselves that they need to get better.
We’re now two weeks into the season – far too early for us to see the big picture, but certainly far along enough for us to be evaluating the choices we’ve made and the processes we’ve been following. In the days since Sunday I’ve definitely been doing this and as expected, it’s been a mixed bag. I feel that the duds that Sammy Watkins and Alvin Kamara put up were just run-bad; Watkins had a team-leading 13 targets and 139 air yards, while Kamara was crushed by the mid-game Brees injury. However, that doesn’t mean mistakes weren’t made there; I didn’t really consider Keenan Allen as a prime WR play, but in retrospect I should have. KA’s already-high usage expectation had upside with Hunter Henry out and Mike Williams limited, and to wit, he led the NFL in Week 2 with a 1.02 WOPR (weighted opportunity rating – a mix of target share and air yards share). I also was on Vernon Davis but basically ignored Terry McLaurin in the same spot, who would have a nice way to not be so GPP-dependent on James Washington. Full-fading Josh Jacobs in GPPs was sharp, but failing to consider Aaron Jones even though he was just $5.4k on DraftKings as a solid home favorite was a mistake.
I’ll continue to self-analyze my first two weeks (especially this past week), and I encourage you to do the same. Where have you made mistakes? Where have you been lucky? Where have you been unlucky? What have you learned so far this season that has surprised you, and what will you do differently moving forward? These are all important questions to ask yourself, and the better than you can honestly answer them, the better your results will be moving forward. And together, we will crush this season.
(As always, all odds listed are accurate at the time of writing, and may shift throughout the week. The Reid Option focuses exclusively on the main slate.)
You have options this week at QB: You could be like Socrdave and play the obscenely cheap Kyle Allen. You could be like Davis Mattek and play Washington State alumni Luke Falk. You could even be like Siege and play pseudo-backup Taysom Hill. Or you could just be a boss and play Kyler Murray, which is most definitely the alpha play. Kid Kyler has started off his career with consecutive 300-yard passing games and he hasn’t even broken out as a runner yet, which will inevitably happen sooner rather than later. And you have to love him in this spot since the Cardinals (22.02 seconds) and Panthers (22.23 seconds) are the two leaders in fastest average time per play, which should lead to a ton of volume in this game.
If I do go shopping at the dollar store, the two knock-off items I’ll be throwing in my cart are Kyle Allen and Mason Rudolph. Rudy-poo definitely inherits the strongest infrastructure of any of the step-in QBs: He has a true #1 WR in JuJu, a legit deep-threat with established rapport in James Washington, a solid RB at his side in James Conner, and one of the league’s best offensive lines protecting him; have no doubts that I’ll be rolling out some Rudy/J-Wash/Kittle GPP teams this week in addition to jumping in on the other side with Jimmy Garoppolo. Allen finds himself surrounded by a similarly talented skill position group and is priced cheaper than a Tijuana street walker – he makes for a contrarian way to get exposure to what figures to be the week’s fastest game.
My favorite contrarian GPP play on this slate is Dak Prescott; Kellen Moore has upgraded the Cowboys offensive scheme from grainy black-and-white to hi-def color, and I assume that most people will be targeting Zeke as the player to own here (which is fully reasonable). But the reality is that Dak could easily be the one smashing the touchdowns, and getting somewhat contrarian exposure to the team with the highest implied team total (34.3 points) seems #good. Rocking a Dak/Zeke/Amari onslaught (hell, throw some Devin Smith in there to spice it up) could pay off in spades.
Of course, having zero GPP exposure to Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson in the game with the week’s highest over/under (55 points) seems like an easy way to prove that Forrest Gump would destroy you in a battle of wits, so you probably shouldn’t do it.
There are two running backs that I’m doing everything in my power to start off my cash game lineups with: The aforementioned Ezekiel Elliott, and Dalvin Cook. Zeke’s floor is at Peter North-levels of rock solid and has similar eruption potential with the Cowboys favored by an obscene three-touchdown margin. As for Dalvin, the only question is, how do you want it?
How do you want it? How does it feel?
Blowin’ up as a fixture in my cash games
Burning like a crashed plane I’m for real
How do you want it? How do you feel?
Blowin’ up as a fixture in my cash games
Burning like a crashed plane I’m for real
Love the way you navigate the sticks and run your flat routes
Got a trigger warning iron-clad you’re ‘bout to smash out
I wanna play you, and I can’t even lie about it
Dalvin just humiliate the Raiders, time to buy don’t doubt it
Match me with a scrub, some nit clod who be fadin’
Davis talking sh** to me but I can’t comprehend concedin’
Now if you wanna roll with Cook, then here’s your chance
Droppin’ 30 on the Raiders, Nohling catch me if you can
Forgive me I’m a crusher, still it’s just some simple math
All I want is money, f*** the fame, I’m a simple man
Mr. Supernatural, playa gonna hold court
Just like Alladin b**ch, get you everything you wish for
It’s either him or Zeke, Barkley, CMC
A favorite of my RBs when he’s priced preferentially
Witness as we plead for a good week, please let your boy sweep
Pound some O.E. get drunk on your long speed
Torchin’ Raiders like a dragon, do it all day
But I’ll be winning by fractions if they all fade
This RB is bangin’ baby I love it when you taunt it
Time to give it to Sammy homie, now tell me how you want it
Obviously, we have to monitor the Chiefs backfield news as the week goes on; LeSean McCoy would become a strong cash play should Damien Williams get shut down, and a min-priced Darwin Thompson would make for a high-upside GPP flier.
And while Austin Ekeler should remain popular, there are a couple other mid-priced backs who have high show out potential. First up is Aaron Jones, who last week crushed the Vikings’ hopes like Baker Mayfield crushes Miller Lites, and this week lines up as an 8-point home favorite against the hopeless Denver Broncos – a team that has already allowed Josh Jacobs and David Montgomery to eat like pigs at a trough. Jones saw 23 rushes and 6 targets last week in a positive gamescript and could be given similar usage in a similar situation this week.
Next up is David Johnson, who in my opinion is the best GPP play at the position this week. Most DFS owners will gravitate towards Kyler Murray, Larry Fitzgerald, and Christian Kirk while glossing over DJ after his Week 2 disappearing act, forgetting that in Week 1 he caught 6 of 7 targets while running 15 routes split out wide and from the slot … in addition to handling 18 carries. If he gets back to that kind of usage this week, he makes for both a sick leverage play off Kyler and a strong stacking partner to go with him.
Though two weeks, Keenan Allen leads the NFL in both team target share (36%) and air yards share (55%), leaving him with a weighted opportunity rating nearly 10% higher than the next-closest wide receiver. That a full PPR site like DraftKings has him priced at just $7000 is borderline lunacy, and fading him in cash games would be a bold move indeed, Cotton. Let’s see how that works out for you.
The low-priced chalk is sure to be Nelson Agholor, who becomes the Eagles de-facto #1 wideout due to injuries to Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson. Chalk WRs who have legitimate downside are nearly always sharp GPPs fades, but in cash games he makes a ton of sense from a construction stantpoint. Teammate J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was an underrated prospect in this year’s draft, should see plenty of field time this week, and makes for a strong contrarian pivot off of Agholor.
Larry Fitzgerald is another strong value across the industry; his 24 targets through two games are the 3rd-most among all NFL wideouts, and his 273 air yards are the league’s 6th-highest total. We’ve already identified this as a game that should see a ton of plays run, so it would be surprising if Fitz’s high usage volume suddenly stopped now. Not far behind him is teammate Christian Kirk, a popular preseason breakout candidate who has 20 targets of his own through two games. Kirk is a very reasonable GPP pivot off of Fitz, but the galaxy brain play among Arizona’s wideouts is Damiere Byrd, who has 7 targets in each of the first two games and played 93% of the team’s snaps last week.
On last week’s Gillcast, one of my key takeaways was that the Patriots look like they want to go full Randy Moss with Antonio Brown; even though he finished Week 2 with a merely decent 4/56/1 line, he received 8 targets in just 24 snaps and if he plays anything close to a full complement in Week 3, hold on to your butts. AB is definitely a narcissist, probably a rapist, and more than likely a full-on POS. But he’s also the Bugatti Chiron Sport of NFL wide receivers, and the Patriots have no idea when their lease is going to end – you’d better believe they want to take him out for a joy ride before it does.
Mike Evans is the classic buy-low play, as his price has dropped to just $6600 on DraftKings even though he leads his team in air yards and weighted opportunity rating. Chris Godwin is the guy putting up the stats and is a fine play in his own right, but the big-play ability and strong opportunity Evans continues to see makes him the better GPP play of the two.
And hey, do you guys know who led the NFL in air yards in Week 2? Wow! Great guess, you’re right – it was Curtis Samuel. I’m genuinely impressed that you knew that. If Cam Newton wasn’t dustier than Clint Eastwood’s ballbag, Samuel could’ve had an epic game last week, and I’m going to roster some shares this week in hopes that Kyle Allen can actually get the ball to this man downfield.
Because I hate money, I’m going back to both Sammy Watkins and James Washington in GPPs this week. There’s no better time to play a guy than the week after he busted as the chalk, which Watkins did despite seeing a leam-leading 13 targets. He’s an elite boomerang play, and all hard feelings from last week will be forgiven after he binks me a milly this Sunday. J-Wash is a far sketchier play, but I’m all about that #narrative life. Can’t be any worse than Dede Westbrook last week … can it?
I very badly want to pay up to the middle tier of TEs this week, something that may be difficult in cash games but could pay off huge in GPPs. George Kittle is a category 5 hurricane of a man in the open field and is tied for the NFL lead among all tight ends in weighted opportunity rating. I’m excited to see what scheme Keith Butler devises this week to match him up with a defensive end in coverage. In the same pricing tier, Zach Ertz feels like an absolute smash waiting to happen. Ertz received 16 targets last week as his teammates snapped out one by one, and while Nelson Agholor will be the chalk due to his low price, Ertz is the man that the Eagles offense is likely to flow through.
There’s something I’ve been wondering about. What if Daniel Jones is actually good? And what if this NYG/TB game turns into a shootout? Well, you can bet your sweet heinie that I’m running Evan Engram back in my Jameis-Evans stacks to find out.
I’ll be honest with you – there’s not much that I really like among the cheap tight ends this week. The Cardinals have allowed lines of 9/112/1 to Mark Andrews and 9/131/1 to T.J. Hockensen over their first two games, so Greg Olsen (who’s received 9 targets in each of his first two games) is probably the guy to go after if you’re paying down.
The Cowboys are 21-point home favorites against a QB making his first start of the season, and the Patriots are 18-point home favorites against a QB making his first start of his career. After the Pats DST broke the slate last week, I’m guessing people will be chasing the nut DST matchups more than usual, but the reality is that defensive TDs are fluky and lightning rarely strikes twice.
I’m far more likely to go against the grain this week, and that puts a team like KC squarely in the discussion. Nobody’s going to play them because they’re A) bad and B) playing against God himself, Lamar Jackson. But the reality is that they’re 6.5-point home favorites and can put Baltimore in a bad spot if they get out to a big lead, which they’re fairly likely to do at some point.
I’m also in on the Chargers D squaring off a Texans team that takes more sacks than Jenna Jameson; Deshaun Watson led the NFL by getting dumped 62 times last season and leads the league again so far this year with 10 in two games. I’m betting that trend is going to continue with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram getting after him this week.
Thanks for reading, everyone! Let’s go make some money in Week 3.